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The Importance of managing cholesterol and simple ways to achieve it

Lowering cholesterol is absolutely necessary since high cholesterol levels can put us at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. However, our body needs cholesterol to remain healthy. It comes from two primary sources, one that our body produces and from our daily diet which includes meat, dairy and poultry items. Modern medicine has given us the options of many cholesterol lowering drugs to keep our body and heart healthy.

Cholesterol is generally classified into Good and Bad cholesterol. While Bad cholesterol is LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein), Good cholesterol is HDL (High-density Lipoprotein). LDL has a tendency to build on the inside walls of our arteries, thus narrowing them and obstructing the passage of blood and hence increasing pressure on the heart. When the plaque built-up breaks off, it can block blood flow completely and could cause a heart attack. HDL is helpful in pushing the bad cholesterol away from the artery walls.

What are the Cholesterol numbers you should aim for?

A blood test can show cholesterol levels and one should get the same checked every 3-5 years depending upon the age, obesity, weight and previous history. The blood test is generally carried out post fasting. One should aim for total cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dl with LDL lower than 130 mg/dl and HDL above 60 mg/dl. It is obvious that higher the HDL levels and lower the LDL levels the better it is for your body.

How can cholesterol levels be improved?

In order to keep cholesterol levels at healthy levels, you can ensure that you follow a proper diet that includes healthy foods, maintain the right body weight and keep a regular exercise routine so that you are physically active. Follow this diligently and you can keep your cholesterol levels within manageable levels. You could also check with your doctor if you should begin with cholesterol lowering supplements to help you do that.

What foods should one eat and what should be avoided?

Maintaining a healthy diet is the key to lowering your cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables are high on the recommendation list, followed by whole-grain foods, low-fat milk, poultry and lean meats. Look for colorful fruits and vegetables like oranges, apples, bell peppers, broccoli and spinach. While buying bread, cereals or pasta, choose whole grain which can include whole wheat, oats, barley or quinoa as these will give your body fiber, protein and carbohydrates.

Remember, trans-fats are bad for you and cookies, crackers and pastries are packed with them. Biscuits, frozen pizzas, fried fast food, doughnuts etc. should be avoided too. Too much sodium will push your blood pressure higher. Sugar is also responsible for weight gain, diabetes and heart-related ailments so items like cakes, cookies, ice cream, soda etc. should be off your shopping list.

Are supplements helpful?

Supplements have been known to lower cholesterol levels but it is always advisable to speak to your doctor and ask for his/her recommendations before doing so. Cholesterol lowering Supplements that have immediate-release niacin, soluble fibers and Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil can help reduce cholesterol levels. Speak to your doctor and check the manufacturer’s credentials before you buy your supplements so you can make an informed decision.

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The Importance of managing cholesterol and simple ways to achieve it


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